Melbourne Heart FC Head Coach John van’t Schip is refusing to get carried away with his team’s upward trend in results, insisting that the key focus is on improving the team's style of play.
Melbourne Heart FC Head Coach John van-t Schip is refusing to get carried away with his team-s upward trend in results, insisting that the key focus is on improving the team's style of play.
Melbourne Heart travel across the Tasman this weekend to face a similarly resurgent Wellington Phoenix, who spent much of 2013 struggling for form.
Since the New Year, van-t Schip-s side has lost just once and won three of its last four matches, while the Phoenix have experienced a remarkable form reversal, claiming four wins, one draw and one loss - a narrow 2-1 defeat to A-League pace-setters Brisbane Roar.
When the sides last met at AAMI Park in late December 2013, Ernie Merrick-s side triumphed 1-0, with the win setting in motion Wellington-s impressive run of form.
But van-t Schip is aware Wellington pose a threat to his own side's momentum and to continue its hot streak of form, his team will have to halt Phoenix's recent run of form.
“We know that [the momentum] is going up and up now but there will be moments were it is going to drop, but we will have to pick up again," van-t Schip said.
“Wellington is a team in good form, they are playing good football, they have an experienced coach and they have some good players, with [Carlos] Hernandez, of course, the one who is giving the team something extra.
“We have to be sharp until the end; we will have some difficult moments for sure.”
Click play on the video below to watch the full press conference with John van't Schip.
Phoenix-s attacking weapons - Belgian Stein Huysegems and Costa Rican Hernandez - have been in devastating touch, with the pair scoring 11 goals between them.
Huysegems leads the league's goal-scoring charts with eight goals, and is a player van-t Schip and Melbourne Heart defender Robbie Wielaert are familiar with from his time in Holland.
“I know that he played in Holland at Feyenoord and he played with Robbie Wielaert, so he is a dangerous player,” van-t Schip said.
“He is on the right spot and I think the relationship on the pitch with Carlos is good; Carlos is the one who feeds him who gets him in positions; they are dangerous.”
Melbourne Heart overcame a similarly dangerous striker last Sunday, with Wielaert and Kisnorbo combining to keep Perth Glory striker Shane Smeltz quiet and scoreless.
This fact, on top of a first win outside of Victoria since 2012, has added belief to the side for their first trip to Wellington this season.
“They [the players] feel good; it was a difficult game [against Perth]… but their confidence is growing and growing and we-re getting stronger as a team,” van-t Schip said.
“It-s still a good week of preparation; we still [had] six days of preparation before the next game.
“The most important thing for us is improving our game; if we do that then all those things will be a consequence, then we will have an away win on the road.
“The exam is always on the weekend and during the week you have to learn very hard.”
If Melbourne Heart are to secure a win in New Zealand, they will have to do so without their in-form captain Harry Kewell, who has suffered a toe injury.
However, van-t Schip-s men will be boosted by the return of marquee man Orlando Engelaar to the squad.
“We don-t want to change that much in positions, but if players are not available then we will, and looking at the squad we have seen players coming in are doing exceptionally well,” van't Schip said.
“Benny Garuccio has come in and is doing well, David [Williams] is doing well, Nicky Kalmar coming in and doing well; it-s very positive that if we have to replace a player or if a player is not in form we have players like Patrick Gerhardt as well who can step in and give the team a good help.”